Tag Archive: classic cars

Review by C.J. Bunce

Merging art with science and technology the Victoria and Albert Museum in London put together an exhibition celebrating more than 100 years of the car.  That exhibition has been documented and is now available as a history of the car, combining historical objects from the museum with thirteen essays that show the impact of this cultural achievement (both the good and the bad) on people around the world.  Prepared by the museum’s researchers, the book Cars: Accelerating the Modern World is a history of the automobile and a nostalgic look at the marketing of cars through hundreds of reprinted advertisements and vintage photographs.

The book examines the need for speed looking at early and modern races, including early women in racing.  From the 1890s to the 2010s style has been supreme when it comes to the love of cars–it might seem obvious, but in one graphic readers can see a comparison of cars, planes, trains, phones, and even chairs, clocks, fashion, and swimsuits, all trending toward more streamlined forms across the decades.  Along with favorite cars is the quest for greater safety.  Manufacturing, assembly lines, industry, regulations, and the development of roads and highways, all led toward a key component that makes road travel possible: standardization.

As with everything else, the history of the car is interspersed with politics, profits, corporations, and The growth of an industry of cars for work tracked cars for personal use and even luxury purposes.  And along the journey was a new class of sales, marketing lifestyle and image to the consumer.  It’s also the movement from the stately black early cars to choice for the consumer via new, vibrant colors for interiors and exteriors.  One Saturday Evening Post excerpt champions new color combinations from DuPont in the 1920s.  Fashion plates compare what women should wear in their new cars in the early days of the automobile.

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American Dreaming artwork

Some classic car aficionados are creating a documentary about the post-War art designers behind Detroit’s big automakers, including General Motors, Ford, Packard, Chrysler, Hudson, Nash, and Studebaker.  American Dreaming: Detroit Automotive Styling 1946-1973 is a project from artist Robert Edwards and Greg Salustro being crowdfunded through Indiegogo.

The filmmakers have interviewed the university-trained art designers behind mid-century car designs, hired by the auto companies between 1946 and 1973, and take a close look at their original artwork, including designs for concept cars that never made it to the city streets.  Some of those designs are pretty stunning, and landed in collectors’ hands in a roundabout fashion.

American Dreaming concept

As in many other industries, designs created by in-house staff became the property of the car companies, and in Detroit auto designers were not allowed to even keep a portfolio of their works at home.  Worse yet, like the early days of comic books and comic strips, the companies threw nixed designs and old artwork into the trash.  It will be those few pages of art that managed to make it out of the companies, through the back door or otherwise, that will be featured in American Dreaming.  These hand-drawn designs for real-life classic hot wheels are great works of American art in their own right, yet never before seen as a unique field of fine art study.

Check out this trailer to promote the documentary project after the break here:

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